Looking for impressive damping and control? The Specialized Butcher T9 has plenty to offer
We tested this Specialized Butcher a couple of years ago, but since then the price has dropped 25%. On the other hand, most of the competition are now charging more, so it deserves another chance in the spotlight.
The tread retains tightly-packed complex shapes and siping, and bears more than a passing resemblance to the Maxxis Minion DHF. The T9 label on the side describes the rubber softness and damping characteristics with this being the softest and slowest-rebounding – there’s also a firmer and faster T7 available. Up front we’d definitely go for the T9 option, while Specialized’s Eliminator in T7 compound would make a better rear option.
Specialized also offers the Butcher in two widths – 2.3in (tested here) and a plumper 2.6in option that’s standard on most of its complete bikes now. The wider tyre is around 75g or so heavier than the weight listed above, but it’s worth it for the extra footprint and cushioning, adding another 4mm to 2.3in tyre’s measured 61mm width.
What’s striking about the Butcher T9 is the sensational damping characteristics, with superlative, ground-hugging, squelchy control. The new Butcher literally glues itself to the earth and is so slow-rebounding it doesn’t bounce or vibrate over even fairly rough surfaces, root webs and rock gardens; in turn delivering exceptional confidence and grip at all angles in the dry.
The 1kg-ish weight is bang on the money for an aggro 29er tyre with good toughness and casing stability. The new GRID construction feels less springy too and, unlike the previous model, doesn’t flex excessively when really leaning and loading forces into it on rock hard ground on a long-travel enduro bike.
One area that the T9 can act weirdly is in the ‘wrong’ type of moisture or at lower temperatures – it’s just not that stable, predictable and assured in slimy (not muddy) conditions. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what’s happening, but the tyre floats a tad across wet dirt and leaf litter on top of hardpack. It could even be that Spesh’s rubber blend reacts poorly with certain types of soil or dirt.
Being reasonably light in GRID casing means it isn’t a total dog climbing, but the sticky knobs routinely firing up little stones and twigs at your downtube hints at this not being the fastest rolling rubber around, and it doesn’t turn over quite as well as something like the Maxxis High Roller II.
Check out some more tyre options in our guide to the best mountain bike tyres: all-round and terrain-specific rubber. Match them up with the best mountain bike wheels for all-round performance gains.
We love certain performance aspects of this new super-supple, 10psi-lower-feeling Butcher. Nothing comes close to this performance for the price, and, if you’re after almost unlimited, hero-making, cornering grip and are generally blessed with dry conditions, this is the model for you. There’s no escaping it can ‘surf’ on top of surfaces a little in the wet though, where other tyres are more predictable, and that’s quite a drawback when you live in the UK.